In The Kitchen With: Nadia G’s Bitchin’ Kitchen
By Fabiana Santana
Let’s face it. Some of us aren’t the “apron in the kitchen” kind of cooks. Instead, we wipe our hands on our shirt and rock out rock music while getting dinner ready. Just like Nadia G. Hailed as the Julia Child of the ‘Net’ generation, she is the host of the new Cooking Channel series Bitchin’ Kitchen. Part cooking show, part style show – with a bit of comedy thrown in for kicks – Nadia turns out rock star worthy culinary creations in a candy-colored kitchen while wearing animal print and leather. Yes, she is our kind of cook!
Her passion for food and cooking came from growing up in a boisterous Italian family. So holidays were kind of a big deal in her household. And they still are. But that doesn’t mean they have to be stressful. Nadia G has teamed up with Van Gogh Vodka to offer tips and recipes to help every hostess become an entertainer extraordinaire this year. But the animal print wardrobe is up to you.
Get yourself out of the kitchen. “The hostess should enjoy her holiday party every bit as much as the guests,” says Nadia. “The best way to get yourself out of the kitchen is to prepare foods ahead that will taste great at room temperature. Some of my favorites are crostinis and sliders. I make my sliders with veal cutlets – they’re great.” By letting guests serve themselves, she says, everyone can eat on their own time giving the hostess time to kick back and relax with her own cocktail and spend quality time with friends.
Let the guests be their own bartenders. Nadia G recommends a vodka punch like her Pomagrenade Punch or a DIY mixers bar: stock a table with bowls of bite sized fresh fruit and herbs that have been soaking in liquor and simple syrup. Serve these gourmet mixers with chilled bottles of unflavored- and flavored-vodkas (Hint: flavored vodkas from Van Gogh Vodka make everyone an instant expert bartender with their smooth, authentic taste and vibrant colors), carbonated water, rum and white wine. Guests will have a blast mixing and matching cocktails and experimenting with new combinations!
Give them something sweet – and don’t forget the coffee. By now, you know Nadia’s got balls. Chocolate ones that is. Hers are made with butterscotch chips, peanuts and crushed pretzels are easy to whip up and major crowd pleasers. Topping off the evening with coffee is always a good idea; have regular and decaf on hand for guests to choose from at the end of the night.
Gift it. That is, send the guests home with something you’ve created in your kitchen. “Everyone loves my Homemade Hot Cocoa mix. I add a little cayenne and some cinnamon to step it up,” says Nadia.
“Gifted in a glass jar or a tin with a bright ribbon, it’s my personal way to say Happy Holidays at the end of the night.”
Nadia also has some great tips on holiday activities, such as, “The Anonymous Laugh Box”. Depending on the theme of the party, print questions on a bunch of cue cards. From, “if you could change one thing about your partner,” to, “the worst Xmas gift you’ve ever received,” have your guests anonymously submit the answer into a makeshift “Laugh Box,” and take turns reading the responses out loud. Laugh Boxes are as fun as Truth or Dare!, especially after a Van Gogh cocktail or two.
Listen up! And of course the most important part of a party is the music; as Nadia says, music can make or break a party. If the host or hostess doesn’t have any musical taste, get a friend to make a playlist for the party.
For more information, interested chefs and party planners can find Nadia’s bitchin’ party guide included in her latest cookbook, COOKIN’ FOR TROUBLE.
1 cup Van Gogh Pomegranate Vodka
1 fresh red hot chili, seeded and sliced paper thin
2 large pomegranates, seeded
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1 bottle chilled champagne or sparkling wine
4 mandarins, finely sliced
1/4 cup maple syrup (optional – depending on desired sweetness)
In a large bowl combine pomegranate vodka, chili, and pomegranate seeds. Cover and marinate in fridge for 30 minutes. Add the rest of ingredients when ready to serve.
In a shaker combine all ingredients above. Shake vigorously with ice. Strain into martini glass rimmed with maple flakes, drop in 2 coriander leaves, and garnish glass with pink grapefruit rind twist.
1 large onion
1 block creamy goat cheese
Prosciutto di parma
Cutting board and knife
Add a swirl of olive oil into a pan on medium-low heat. Slice onions into medium-size rings and add to the pan. Keep on low heat and stir regularly until onions become tender and dark brown.
Shkiaffing it Together
Toast 1/4 slices of your favorite baguette. Slather with maple-caramelized onions, creamy goat cheese, a delicate piece of prosciutto di parma, top with paper thin fig slices.
1 cup finely chopped semi-sweet chocolate
1 cup finely chopped milk chocolate
I cup butterscotch chips
1 1/2 cups unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
1 1/2 cups crushed pretzels
Heat a double boiler over medium heat. Add the semi-sweet chocolate, milk chocolate, and butterscotch chips to the top pan. Stir until everything is melted. Remove it from the heat, and fold in the peanuts and pretzels. Let the mixture cool slightly at room temperature.
Shkiaffing It Together
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, and scoop on heaping tablespoons of the chocolate mixture. Refrigerate for 5 minutes. Remove it from the fridge, and with your fingers, gently compact the ingredients to form balls. Cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve them.